Beer politics

Ryan (quasi-New Patriot ;) has a post by David Berg, president of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, on MNBeer about the foiling of yet another attempt to rationalize Minnesota's liquor laws. And effort to allow brewpubs to distribute their product off-premises was just shot down. Well, there's always next year.

If you want the "dirt" version of the above post, check out this post on the Northern Brewer forum.


Whaddya Waiting For?

From the mind of DanSavage:

But dude, I was saying that way before it was cool.


Construction Labor Practices

Check out this Whitney Condo Grand Opening video on MNstories. I was there to check out the posh digs (and hopefully free wine), but unexpectedly found construction labor unions demonstrating out front. Mike Hatch showed up, too. The issue: During demolition, the union allegedly documented a worker or workers making $6/hour cash, with inadequate safety equipment. Naturally the developer disputes this, and says a certain amount of non-union jobs are a necessity of the marketplace.

Anybody have more info that would shed light on this?

My Dinner with Jack

A family friend's son has made the big time with the cover of the Weekly Standard. He had dinner with Jack Abramhoff a while back, and wrote about the experience. It's a good read... and funny.

My Dinner with Jack.

Antiwar Postage Stamp

I thought this was interesting on so many levels.

I don't specifically agree with the sentiment anymore than I do most overly simplistic policy statements. But I acknowledge there isn't enough room on a stamp to formulate the idea of structured build up of international forces combined with continued economic aid, gradual withdrawl set against a timeline of escalating sectarian tensions, aka civil war, all of which is neccessary to get us out of a situation we shouldn't be in in the first place but was dropped in our laps by the numbnuts in chief.

However, I do like the fact that the range of opinion is available to this postal customer. And I like the fact that it is my government that is providing it, regardless of who is in office at the moment. It gives me hope.

Breaking Story: American Family Association beside its gosh darn self

The American Family Association has launched a consumer campaign against Australia Tourism's new advertisement because it contains the phrase, "bloody hell." AFA director of special projects, Randy Sharp, offers this insight:

It's a shocking phrase because we're not familiar with it.


When you think 'bloody' in America you think the red liquid that flows from human bodies which is usually a sign of some kind of violence," Sharp said.Australians are spending all of these millions of dollars inviting us, and if we go over there are we going to be exposing our kids to foul language and images of bloody? We don't want our kids to hear the term 'bloody'.

Mr. Sharp continued on to say that a trip to Australia was ok for youngsters if they were prepared with several hours of in-flight Holy Snuff films like the 2 hour long torture epic, The Passion of the Christ. "That," he said with a grin, "would put the perspective back in bloody."


Murder in the neighborhood

Saturday, Michael Zebuhr was senselessly gunned down by muggers in Uptown, not more than two blocks from where I live. Every death is a tragedy, but Michael's was especially so. He was a promising young man (I'm not much older that he was), a graduate student, and a visitor to our city. He was shot in front of his mother and sister after they had already complied with the mugger's demands.

Most killings in Minneapolis are the result of gang-on-gang violence (people in "high risk lifestyles" to use R.T. Rybak's unartful phrase) or tragic accidents, innocent people caught in the crossfire of that same gang violence. The premeditated slaughter of an innocent person is (thankfully) infrequent. And yet, here we are.

At Tuesday's CARAG meeting, the pain and anger was evident. People, including me, want action now. Crime in Uptown has been increasing. Robberies are up. Just a few weeks ago, my building was broken into. I don't want to feel unsafe in my own neighborhood. I want these killers caught and punished. I want more police patrols and better lighting to make the neighborhood safer. And it's time for a real debate about surveillance cameras in the area.

The number of police has dropped by about 100 officers (the city is hiring about 70 back now) because of Local Government Aid and federal funds have been cut. I want to see that funding restored, but with the no-taxes gang in charge, that's a tall order. Minneapolis is a net contributor to the state tax system, but we get screwed on LGA. Thanks a lot, Republicans.

But it's important to remember that many poorer neighborhoods have had the exact same reaction and have tried to get things done about it after every single brazen murder or accidental shooting death.

But they don't have the same political and economic power that Uptown does, so they get the shaft.

Now that we in Uptown have seen what it feels like up close, I think it's important to remember our neighbors up North and in South Minneapolis have been dealing with this for a long time, and make common cause with them. Together, we can make the city safer.


If you want to help out Michael's family, a fund has been set up to pay for the medical expenses associated with his death: "Donations for the Michael Zebuhr Memorial Fund are being accepted at TCF Bank, 612 Washington Av. SE., or at any TCF Bank branch.... Cards and condolences can be sent care of the Zebuhr family to Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home, 95 S. Kanawha St., Buckhannon, WV 26201."

Secular symbols removed from St. Paul City Hall

Someone's a little too sensitive. The "Easter" Bunny doesn't have anything to do with the Christian Easter.


A quip to remember

I subscribe to the GOP Newsletter. Last week I got the announcement that the MN GOP launched a website to support their effort to abuse the Minnesota Constitution with the disingenuously named Defense of Marriage Amendment.

Shortly after that, an email landed in my inbox that contained an interesting exchange that ocurred between a Jamie Raskin, professor of constitutional law at AU and an Arizona Republican State Senator, Nancy Jacobs:

"As I read Biblical principles, marriage was intended, ordained and started by God — that is my belief," [Jacobs] said. "For me, this is an issue solely based on religious principals."

Raskin shot back that the Bible was also used to uphold now-outlawed statutes banning interracial marriage, and that the constitution should instead be lawmakers' guiding principle.

"People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution; they don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible," he said.

Perhaps this can serve as a pointer for the little legislators who have lost their way. How about authoring a Defense of the Consitution Amendment? Or at least they could rename DOMA more honestly. How about, "Punish People for Being Born In A Way That Makes Us Really Uncomfortable Amendment?"

Note: I quote the snopes version, which seems slightly more relaistic. The urban legend version is more soundbite-terrific, though:

At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"

Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

Bush insists up is down

Ya gotta hand it to the guy. Bush's rose colored glasses are THICK:

Bush Asks U.S. to Look Past Iraq Bloodshed


Jug band!

The New Patriots are getting together for a party! A jug party.

If you want to hang out and see some fun music, join us to see...

The Como Avenue Jug Band with Pert’ Near Sandstone and John Ashton
9 PM March 18th
Hexagon Bar
2600 27th Ave S

You can hear on of the Como Avenue Jug Band's songs on their MySpace page.


Censure Bush

Sen. Russ Feingold' has introduced a resolution calling for Bush to be censured for his domestic wiretapping program. I support it and urge you all to call your senators.

The wiretapping program is not the least and not the most egregious of Bush's infractions. It's somewhere between Bush's misconduct before and during the war in Iraq, editing EPA reports on the envronmental safety of NYC post 9.11, journalistic payola, distributing video press releases that look like news - without disclaimers, his painful war on science, letting Haliburton gorge at the trough while troops go ill-equipped to war, his total abdication of responsibility and leadership during Katrina...oh, I could go on and on.

But the wiretapping case is indisputably, clearly, illegal.

Recently, Sandra Day O’Connor gave a candid interview on NPR, in which she lambasted partisan interference in the judiciary.

"Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.

President Bush's phony power grab cuts at the roots of the American Republic. We are not stronger, or more safe, because we relinquish our right to privacy to this bozo.

His argument for doing so, his only argument, mind you, is "Trust me, I know what's best." Based on his track record, should we? No way. The senate should tell him in no uncertain terms that the buck stops with the law.


The good is oft interred with their bones

At last, after two years of family outrage (and public ignorance), there will be a new criminal inquiry into the death of Pat Tillman. Nobody disputes now that his body was riddled with friendly (American) bullets when he expired, and I still await a detailed synopsis of the hamfisted military strategy that led to his unit getting surprised and fired upon by comrades, for no apparent reason. But what surprises me -- a secret whispered rarely if ever during the news reports and investigation -- is this:

Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author.

Now, even I don't consider Noam Chomsky a favorite author, since his prose is invariably dead on its feet. How could an Arizona Cardinals safety dig the works of a celebrity lingusitics professor who is amputating the genitals of his own language? Tillman is probably the only Chomsky fan ever to sweat bullets in the crags of Khost. Sure, once you penetrate his wooden style, Chomsky does reflect a reality that the military propaganda machine avoids at all costs. Does the American military prohibit his works? Let's hope not, though my guess is the appearance of a Chomsky book in a combat situation may constitute grounds for treason.

Justice should be served not only for the manner of Tillman's death, but for the life of his mind, which was obviously more complex than anyone cared to think.


Let them eat 2% more cake

I'm less bemused by President Bruininks's huge double-5% raise than I am by the timing of the announcement: Friday before Spring Break. Nice and quiet, the campus is; deserted, even. But between the measly 0-2% wage increases most U. workers have received since 2000, and the enormous tuition increases students have been suffering, I doubt that anyone other than Bruininks and his dependents will be pleased with this.

Perhaps the Regents are rewarding him for finally removing unsightly poor students from the U. community (by closing General College). Or maybe his holding down of labor costs does merit a coupla big pay hikes for himself, even though these flatlined worker wages have decreased productivity while sparking more and more resentment and division in the University community.

Certainly Bruininks has lobbied hard, against some nasty opposition, to achieve some reform. In some ways, I do hope the man's "Strategic Positioning" vision of a world-famous public research university in Minnesota does turn the campus into a ticking machine fueled by mostly private market-driven dollars, since that might even encourage some benificence and fairness in the distribution of wages among employee groups. I don't foresee the Minnesota legislature emptying dumpsters full of greenbacks onto the University anytime within the next century.

But President Bruininks, your two 5% pay increases are a slap in the face to the masses of workers who actually make the University work. I hope that you will stick to your principles and refuse it, maybe settle for 2% instead, and keep smiling at the stark future that awaits us.


DFL Straw Pole

Hopefully you were all out at thecaucuses last night. In my precinct, there were a few first-time visitors, a few second-timers and quite a few "regulars." Overall, the turnout seemed to be really good with some of the precincts overflowing their allotted spaces. Dawn and I were "elected" to be delegates (and when I say "elected" I mean "volunteered") to our Senate district's convention and a number of residents brought up interesting and valid resolutions that may or may not see the light of day... things such as instand run-off voting, resolving to have a plan to exit Iraq, medically accurate information about birth control and sex education, etc., etc.

Here's the most recent information from the DFL straw poll last night, courtesy of DFL.org. My precinct varied a bit, ovewhelmingly choosing Amy Klobuchar over Ford Bell, Steve Kelley over Mike Hatch with no votes for Doran or Lourey (though for full disclosure, Steve Kelley is our precinct's Senator), Matt Entenza for Atty. General, undecided on Secretary of State and Reggie Edwards for State Auditor (closely followed by "undecided."

With 75 percent of precinct caucus locations reporting.

Senate (22,821)

Ford Bell 15.9
Amy Klobuchar 76.9
Undecided/other 7.2

Governor (22,697)

Kelly Doran 6.4
Mike Hatch 38.3
Steve Kelley 22.4
Becky Lourey 22.7
Ole Savior 0.3
Undecided/other 9.8

Attorney General (20,729)

Matt Entenza 81.8
Undecided/other 18.2

Secretary of State (19,427)

Christian Sande 15.4
Dick Franson 5.4
Mark Ritchie 38.3
Undecided/other 40.9

State Auditor (19,157)

Reggie Edwards 12.1
Rebecca Otto 46.8
Undecided/other 41.1

How about your precinct?

US envoy calls Iraq "Pandora's Box"

US envoy to Iraq: 'We have opened the Pandora's box'

The US ambassador to Baghdad conceded yesterday that the Iraq invasion had opened a Pandora's box of sectarian conflicts which could lead to a regional war and the rise of religious extremists who "would make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play".

I applaud Zalmay Khalilzad for speaking frankly. It is disgraceful that plain spoken words stand in stark relief against the continuing wall of spin foisted on us by Cheney, Rumsfeld and co.


South Dakota clears the air

Like most people in this country, I am favor making abortions safe and legal while taking every opportunity to create policies that result in their decline. In that light, I am completely opposed to South Dakota's new law banning abortion.

In another light, I appreciate the integrity of the law. It's really the first time since Roe v.Wade that a totally pure abortion law has been passed. They aren't fooling around with chipping away at the issue by passing minor restrictions. They are waging the battle sans hypocrisy. The line has been drawn clearly, for a change.

I believe Roe will weather this challenge. South Dakota's law is too aggressive by half. There is a small percentage of americans who agree with this law as it is. There is a plurality that disagree, even in South Dakota. For that reason alone the law will probably not stand. It may be put to a simple majority vote in South Dakota, where it will probably lose.

Even if it does stand in SD and makes its way to the Supreme Court, I believe Roe will be upheld again. When that happens, perhaps it will lead to a greater understanding and acceptance of the limits of government. Perhaps this could lead to shared strategies between anti-abortion activists and liberal health care, education and economic activists. Maybe we need to have this conversation now, not later.


Monaghan builds purgatory

Dominoes guy tries to build his own christian country in the middle of Florida. Jeb Bush breaks ground on the first building. If only there wasn't that pesky constitution.

Why Peak Oil is probably soon

You've probably heard a little bit about "Peak Oil," the date at which half the world's oil will have been extracted and oil production will enter a terminal decline. Maybe you've checked out Colin Campbell, Kenneth Deffeyes, Matthew Simmons, or the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.

But if not, Stuart Staniford provides a good rundown at The Oil Drum of the many converging pieces of evidence why peak oil is probably about now.

- OPEC reserves are exaggerated
- World production stopped increasing in 2004
- Decline rates of existing production are very high
- Hubbert Linearization points to peak oil
- At least one major oil company is warning us
- The price of oil keeps going up
- There is no evidence of Saudi spare capacity
- There are geopolitical and climatic risks to the existing production level

As for me?

I (heart) Wind Turbines


Counting Contraception and Unintendeds

In 2000, the federal government established a national public health goal of reducing unintended pregnancies by 40 percent over the next 10 years. [Because, well, nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and that's kinda high.] The Alan Guttmacher Institute recently released a report ranking states' efforts to aid in reaching this goal. States were scored in three main categories: availability of contraceptive services, family planning laws and policies, and public funding for family planning services.

The results were a little surprising: The wealth and political leanings of a state weren't fool-proof predictors of rank at all. States as diverse as California, South Carolina, Alabama, New Mexico, and Wyoming scored in the top 10.

Minnesota ranked a mushy middling 28th overall, doing better in the public funding category and worse in service availability (with only 40 percent of women and 41 percent of teenagers in need of publicly funded contraceptive services having their need met). *Watch that rank fall* over the next few years as the consequences of new sex education guidelines and more conservative reproductive rights laws really kick in...

But looking at the performance of individual states obscures the overall picture -- that no state's doing particularly well. Even perennial top dog California only scored a 73 out of a possible 100. And the Washington Post reports that during the time of the study, 33 states made it harder for poor women and teenagers to obtain contraceptives and other family planning services. Unless things turn around dramatically over the next 4 years, we're looking at another public health goal that's all bark and no bite. Or condoms.


Zogby Poll: Troops want to come home

John Zogby's revealing poll of servicemen and women in Iraq is as sadly ironic as it gets. Zogby's results have 72% of troops surveyed wanting to withdraw within a year. Not only that, but apparently:

"...85 percent of those surveyed believe that the US's main mission in Iraq is to retaliate against Saddam Hussein for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."


"...93 percent said that they did not think that removing weapons of mass destruction was the reason they were in Iraq."

Inspite of the fact that they are convinced of what has to be a very compelling reason to fight, the troops still want to come home. What that means to me is that that the real view on the ground is that there is no military victory in Iraq.

There is a very interesting trend here. There is no free lunch. When our government abuses the public with lies for as long and as hard as this one has, we are bound to see its efforts reflected in the attitudes and opinions of its citizens. For beliefs like that to crystalize, the troops must be literally soaked in propaganda.

But worse, culture will begin to circulate the same behavior of it's leadership. If the government breaks or stretches its own laws to surveil citizens, why should there be a problem with introducing GOP Spyware to identify voters?

If the government engages in an extended campaign of misinformation, direct lies, evasive spin, secrecy and over classification, eventually, citizens will brainwash themselves. Progress for America's recent "Midwest Heroes" ad was spun almost entirely from thin air, and is a direct reflection of the junk news and propaganda Bush has pushed and we have mainlined for the life of this administration:

You'd never know it from the news reports, but our enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda--the same terrorists who killed three thousand Americans on 9/11, the same terrorists from the first World Trade Center bombing, the USS Cole, Madrid, London, and many more.

American troops overwhelmingly support the mission President Bush has given us.

What great message. If only it were true.

Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina

In October of 2004, Ron Suskind wrote a fantastic essay on the character of the Bush Administration. In it, Suskind quotes a Bush aide in a passage that gave rise to the rallying cry, "Proud Member of the reality-based community":

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

Reality has long intruded on the Bush rose-colored-glasses-with-blinders-on descriptions of the results of his malfeasance. this is a particularly egregious example: Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina. It makes Brownie look marginally better and Bush sink deeper in an absolute sinkhole of incompetence. What is he? Stoned? Apathetic? Your guess is as good as mine.